What we can learn from our five-year-old selves
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My wooden swing was my horse, the pine needles that fell in abundance my hay. The blue slide was the river I’d fish in and the broken fence was my stable. I grew up in this oasis of creativity, this endless state of make-believe. Spending hours on end in my backyard, I began to develop my sense of imagination that would carry me throughout all my life. I was always seeing things as they could be, rather than what they were.
This is something I’ve carried with me each and every day, always striving to make things the way I would have seen it as a little girl. I saw a world with no limits, no boundaries, where no dream was too farfetched. Though my five year old self didn’t realize it at the time, it was in those moments that I was becoming who I am today. Though I may not be pretending to be a farmer or a fairy any longer, I still try to view life with this philosophy. The times that may have seemed like silly child’s play created my perspective from which I view the world.
The difference between myself now and then is the fact that I know the world isn’t the way I pictured it. At five-years-old I knew little about the world. I hadn’t realized that not everyone gets the chance to grow up under a roof with two loving parents, or that many never get to grow up at all. I hadn’t realized that food and water are a gift, not a given. I hadn’t heard countless stories of love and loss, of war and death. I hadn’t realized that I was living in a world where I was one of the lucky ones. All these things I now know make it a lot harder to wake up in the morning and put on the rose colored glasses I had as a child. Yet, for some reason I trust my five-year-old self, all because she was an optimist.
We often lose something we had as a child, that sense of trust in humanity and faith that things will work out. We knew little, the world a vast unknown we are eager to explore. We filled our heads with huge dreams and our hearts with outrageous wishes, believing in ourselves and walking around like we could reach the sky. We didn’t care what other thought of us and were free to be our weirdest and truest selves; simply being the person who made us happiest.
At what age do we lose that? At what age do we stop believing in each other, the world, and ourselves? I’d be lying if I said I never had a moment where I felt so small and insignificant, incapable of making a change in the world. There are days where I sit down to watch the news and walk away with my shoulders sulked, tears welling up in my eyes and a heavy pain weighing down on my heart. I’ll often sit in front of the television asking myself how it ended up this way, how people could be so evil, and how different the world is from the way I imagined it.
In those moments, I close my eyes and try to think like the little girl in my backyard, a girl who always wore a huge smile, who looked at the simplest thing with wonder and awe. There is a balance that we need to find between who we were as children and who we are as young adults. If we combine the hope and light we possessed as a child with the knowledge we have now, think of how much we could change. If we chose to have the trust in each other we once did, think of how we could join forces. If we decided to stop worrying about what others think of us, think of how our true passions would shine.
We can’t be afraid of the world. The only thing to be afraid of is our own inability to think we aren’t strong enough to make it into what we want. When the people around you think you’re naive for believing you can create change, smile at them. They have lost that sense of childhood bliss, that pure positivity that has a powerful force. Once we let go of the fear of judgement, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.